This week, an article caught my eye and I had to read it a couple of times, just to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. It’s a story of the rich taking advantage of the disabled, in the most bizarre way.
Basically, here’s what’s happening – wealthy Manhattan moms are hiring disabled tour guides so they can skip the queues for rides at Disney World. The New York Post reported that one mom got her daughter onto “It’s a Small World” within a minute rather than waiting 2 and a half hours. The guides apparently cost $130 an hour, but it’s “how the one percent do Disney.” The moms are said to have met at parties and swapped the number of Jacie Christiano, who works for Dream Tours Florida and has an auto-immune disorder. With her inside knowledge of Disney World and her motorized scooter, she led families straight onto the best rides.
If this is true, it’s a despicable abuse of accessibility – the reason that disabled people get onto the rides quicker is that the queues aren’t always accessible and are up steps, or too narrow to get a wheelchair through. So they get shown to another entrance and that typically gets them on the ride quicker. The idea that the wealthy can pay people to fast-track them (while avoiding the official Disney systems) is sickening. If it continues, it could lead to the removal of privileges for disabled visitors or more rigorous challenges to prove that they are, in fact, disabled. It could cause embarrassment and delays when the trust between visitors and staff is broken down.
But, there are questions over whether this is story true or not. A regular visitor to Disney, known as Jane XO, claimed that there were never 2-hour lines for “It’s a Small World”, which undermines the credibility of the report. She also says that there are a lot of rides that don’t have a disabled entrance, due to an accessible queuing system. CNN ran a report the day after the NY Post story, saying that Disney was unaware of the situation, and they were going to look into it. So, is it all faked or is there some truth in it?
There certainly is a Disney guide called Jacie Christiano – her YouTube channel shows smiling guests visiting Disney World with her. And Dream Tours confirm that she uses a motor scooter. What’s unclear is whether the rich moms are hiring her on purpose and if so, how widespread is it? Is it just one rich mom who, for some reason, has taken her story to the NY Post? Or are Dream Tours cashing in by using Jacie’s disability? And if that’s true, who is taking advantage of whom? It looks like the disabled guide is profiting from these families’ impatience but she could just be doing her job, and it’s not her fault that they have a hidden agenda.
So, it’s a confusing and ambiguous state of affairs. But let’s get one thing straight – if you’re taking advantage of facilities or services designed for people with disabilities, you should feel ashamed.
Until next time,
Peace, love and vitamin C!